+ Harnessing the Power of Data

Data is often seen as the quickest way to drive innovation, increase productivity and gain a competitive advantage. While all of that is true, without a sound strategy, data collection and measurement can also paralyze staff, waste time and cause leaders to make poor decisions.

Topics covered can include:

  • Understanding the Data Cycle
  • Differences between KPIs, Performance Measures, and Benchmarks
  • Selecting the Best Peformance Measures for Your Agency
  • Analytics, Data Mapping, Dashboards, and other Technology
  • Excel Tips & Tricks
  • Considerations for Staff Implementation

+ Project Management & Getting Things Done

Parks & recreation staff are often responsible for leading projects, including planning processes, new technology initiatives, construction projects, special events, and even accreditations. However, even when excitement about a project is high, balancing the role of "Project Manager" with an already full plate is tough, making it easy for a project and its team to veer off track.

Topics covered can include:

  • Setting Realistic Project Schedules & Budgets
  • Influencing and Getting Things Done
  • Team Communication Strategies that Work
  • Identifying & Mitigating Project Risks

+ Innovation Beyond the Buzz Words

It's easy to talk about the concept of innovation, but much harder to actually achieve. How do you move beyond the aspiration to become more like companies such as Google and Apple while working within the reality of local government?

Topics covered can include:

  • Creating a Culture of Innovation
  • Innovation vs Improvement
  • Idea Management Beyond the Suggestion Box
  • Designing an Innovative Work Environment
  • Better Brainstorming Methods

+ Putting Your Strengths to Work

Often when trying to determine what makes a great leader, we start by creating a long list of qualities we've seen in the people that inspire us. Have you ever noticed that there is not one quality on those lists that every single successful leader possesses? This is because what great leaders have in common has nothing to do with the list of talents they possess, but instead that they are keenly aware of what their individual talents are and make a point to use them every single day. Likewise, if you want to be successful and happy in your career, instead of trying to copy who these leaders are, you should copy what they do.

The content in this session is applicable for professionals at any stage of their career working in any public or private sector position. This workshop works best as a pre-conference seminar or half/full-day workshop, or a series of several shorter workshops. It requires all participants to complete an electronic assessment in advance.

Topics covered can include:

  • Understanding the Science Behind Strengths
  • Putting Your Individual Strengths to Work
  • Using Individual Strengths to Advance Teams
  • Supervising with Strengths

+ Prioritizing Park Improvements

With competing public interests and dwindling funding for grants, prioritizing and gaining support for park development projects is critical. Instead of letting simple facility/equipment life expectancy, emotions, or politics drive which projects move forward, there are systems that can be built to ensure that the park infrastructure most in need of attention actually gets it.

Topics covered can include:

  • Determining Which Park Project Prioritization Method is Best for Me
  • Project Priority Matrices
  • Equity Mapping
  • Park Report Cards

+ Dealing with the 3D's: The Difficult, Demotivated, and Duds

Leading your staff isn’t always as easy as those Successories posters may have you believe. Learn how to diagnose the cause of an employee’s poor performance before it spreads to the rest of your team.

Topics covered can include:

  • Components that Make Up Performance
  • Diagnosing the Root of a Performance Problem
  • Treating Staff as Individuals While Holding Them to the Same Expectations
  • Responding to Excuses that Poor Performers Make

+ Learning Without Lectures

Regardless of the popularity of your programs or the quality of your facilities, your staff will always be your most important resource. Why then when it comes to training our most valuable assets, do we always seem to end up spending the majority of our time using the same worn-out lecture-type settings?

This session is especially timely when offered in the spring for supervisors of seasonal staff, although it can be geared towards including advice for training and supervising full-time staff as well. By extending this workshop for a longer time or offering it as a two-part series at a conference, it can also include introduction and hands-on practice of new training activities that participants can incorporate into their own training.

Topics covered can include:

  • Qualities of an Effective Training
  • Keys to Audience Engagement
  • Teaching the "Unteachable"
  • Hands-On Examples of Training Activities

+ Other Topics Include...

  • Trends in Parks & Recreation and Local Government
  • Designing Surveys for Results that Get Results
  • Moving Beyond Generational Stereotypes to Get Work Done


What are the workshops like?

No-nonsense practical advice doesn't mean boring. With a background in recreation, I make learning fun. In presentations given across the country, my workshop attendees have built with LEGOs, conducted science experiments, played customized board games, and other interactive activities to drive home key learning objectives in fun and memorable ways.  

It really sparked something in me...You may have created a data junkie in me as I suddenly came up with multiple ideas and conversations that I feel the need to have with staff about some of their metrics.
— Terry Wolf, Superintendent of Buildings & Grounds at Park Ridge Park District


Where will I be next?

Here are some of the public conferences and workshops that I'll be appearing at in the next few months: